The Antichrist - Part 3
Romans 8:6-8 (ESV)
6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The Self is formed by the carnal mind, which Paul states in no uncertain terms, “is death,” a state of being where we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (John 3:3; Eph. 2:1). Yes, we begin as “natural” and not “carnal,” but remember, the “natural” human being “does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1st Cor. 2:14; NKJV). Due to this state of ignorance, it makes perfect sense that we would then turn to the mind that is set “on the things of the flesh,” and without exception, be strongly influenced by the corresponding pride which shapes and forms the Self (Rom. 8:5; NKJV).
Because the Self is carnal, it is diametrically opposed to the things of the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:7), therefore it is antichrist. It goes without saying that most of us do not wish to consider such things, but this too is a characteristic of the Self, for it is very good at resisting the truth of our Creator, even while it practices religion (2nd Tim. 3:5; Heb. 4:12; ESV).
Let me emphasize. The Self does not like what we’re discussing, especially in this age of “political correctness,” but if we are raw and honest about where we stand today, we are not only challenging every moral boundary, we are doing our best to convince others that these moral boundaries shouldn’t even exist! Beloved, this is nothing new (Eccl. 1:9), for here’s what the prophet Isaiah stated long ago.
Isaiah 5:20-23 (ESV)
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! 22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, 23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!
Pride is the element that produces the thought of being “wise” in our “own eyes,” which in turn leads to calling “evil good and good evil.” This too is a characteristic of the Self and when left unchecked, leads to the intensity that we see today. And, my friend, the church is in no way exempt from this as proven by what Jesus declared to the seven churches in Revelation. In fact, the church may be even more susceptible to the deceitful workings of the Self due to the fact that when it embraces religion, it creates an attitude of “self-righteousness” which the Self loves to embrace and entertain. Proof of this is readily seen in the fact that, almost without exception, every denomination and religious organization believes they have the truth while the others don’t. This religious pride has led to more condemnation and contention than can be named and is responsible for producing more false doctrines in the body of Christ than any other characteristic. Not surprisingly, those in the world seem to recognize it more quickly than those who profess His name.
Should we doubt the idea of Self sitting in this “temple” which we are, consider what Paul wrote to Timothy in the following.
2 Timothy 4:1-4 (ESV)
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
What did Paul say? “The time is coming when people,” more specifically the church, “will not endure sound teaching” but instead “accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” Is this not true today? And, Paul says, it would become so bad that we would “wander off into myths”! The King James renders this “fables,” which Strong’s defines as, “A tale, i.e. fiction.” In other words, we will embrace concepts which have no foundation at all in scripture! Two such “myths” if you will are the “rapture” and “Lucifer.” Now, note that Paul actually wrote this to Timothy in the same letter before the previous passages.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
According to Acts 2:16, the “last days” began with the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. So it is that for the past two thousand years, what Paul described to Timothy has been slowly increasing in intensity as we drift further and further from the original gospel of Christ.
Note that the FIRST THING Paul mentions is “lovers of SELF,” followed by “lovers of MONEY,” followed by, “proud” and “arrogant” and even “swollen with conceit." Yet, they will have “the appearance of godliness” but deny “its power.” What does it mean to deny “its power”? Paul tells us.
Romans 1:16 (ESV)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV)
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Do we not see by these passages that the true “gospel” is the “message of the cross”? And what is the “message of the cross”? Would it not be the message of self-denial which Jesus taught in Matthew 16 which stands in direct contradiction to “lovers of self”?
Here, my friend, is why so many religious charlatans on television seek to make us believe that they are performing miracles and healing in their so-called crusades. Not for a moment do I believe this to be true, for if it were, the reaction to this kind of divine power would be as it was in Jesus’ day, where an unending stream of sick and infirm would be lining up at their feet! But they are not, which is proof that these religious impostors are staging these things in order to sustain their religious reputations and the huge amount of money that flows into their ministries. God love us, so many of us want it so bad that we are willing to support these charlatans without any real proof of their legitimacy!
Folks, let it be said that the “power” of God’s Spirit will never be given to the Self, for if it were, it would quickly undo the beauty and preciousness of this power as it has in our time! Yes, there is power! Yes, there is healing! Yes, there are miracles, but they are not given so that we might display such things in the media and build huge, religious ministries which exalt us in the eyes of others!